Does a comfy (and stylish) sofa bed exist?

Jessica Doyle
Sophie chaise corner sofa bed, from £2,221, Love Your Home. A luxurious and practical design, with storage for bed linen in the chaise section -

You bet it does. Jessica Doyle finds the new pieces to prove it

It’s the hard-working, multitasking piece of furniture that most of us need – but is it really possible to find a sofa bed that is easy to use, comfortable to both sit and sleep on, and that you wouldn’t be ashamed to have in your living room?

As the size of our homes shrink (the average new-build is a third smaller than it was in the 1970s), and more of us work from home, the guest bedroom is becoming something of a luxury. A spare room, if you have one, will often have to do double duty as an office or a kids’ playroom.

More common, too, is that any guests staying over will be in the living room – so you need a sofa bed that looks good, as well as providing extra sleeping space. Proving the demand for flexible furniture, John Lewis has seen a rise of 42 per cent on sofa beds over the past year, on both basic designs and top-quality options – some of which come with integrated storage, where you can keep bedding and a mattress topper for extra comfort.

Sofa.com has also seen a rise of 30 per cent and has responded by offering a wider choice of styles. Its Bluebell design, with elegant turned wooden legs, was introduced as a sofa bed at the end of last year and became an instant bestseller, available in over 100 fabrics, from florals and stripes to velvets and leather.

Bluebell sofa bed, from £1,620, Sofa.com (sofa.com) Credit: Sofa.com

For Abi Boura and Leigh Harmer, the founders of sofa company Love Your Home, designing the perfect sofa bed has been something of a passion. ‘It was one of the first things we looked at and we did so much research,’ says Abi. ‘We looked at the mechanisms used by the top Italian brands so that we could create the strongest designs at our price point.’

They offer the conventional pull-out mechanism and also an easy roll-out one, ‘so you don’t have to take all the cushions off when you’re turning it into a bed,’ Abi explains. There’s also the option of upgrading to a pocket-sprung mattress with integrated memory-foam topper.

The style options here range from simple designs with loose linen covers to button-back velvet Chesterfields: ‘I’m a terrible snob when it comes to furniture,’ says Abi, ‘so I couldn’t have our sofa beds looking ugly. We wanted to show people that you don’t have to compromise – you can have a sofa that is both beautiful and comfortable.’

How to choose the perfect sofa bed

By Kris Manalo, upholstery buyer  at Heal’s 

  • Look for mattresses with pocket springs, where each individual spring is sewn into  its own pocket of fabric, which  means they operate independently  and provide  better support.
  • Aim for a mattress thickness of at  least 10cm (add  a mattress topper  for extra comfort).
  • Check the mechanism – if you’re planning on using  the sofa as a bed regularly, a fold-out design is the quickest and easiest to use. 
  • Choose your  fabric carefully. You don’t have to sacrifice style for practicality – fashionable fabrics such as velvet are  now common on sofa beds – but wool or polyester will be more durable if the sofa bed will be used regularly.

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